2022 Strategic Trends Glossary

  • Climate change

    Institutions are taking steps to mitigate their environmental impact through green and sustainable technologies and are adapting to severe weather events in areas such as operations, risk management, disaster recovery, and travel.

  • Demographic changes in student populations

    Populations of many developed countries are aging, and the traditional 18–25-year-old student population is shrinking in absolute terms and as a proportion of enrollments.

  • Diminishing reputation and perceived value of postsecondary education

    The value of a college degree and an educated citizenship are under increasing scrutiny and may experience a sharp decline among some communities or populations.

  • Government funding for higher education

    New and prospective federal government funding changes are introducing opportunities and uncertainties, complicating some institutions' financial planning and outlook.

  • Higher demand for data-informed decision-making

    Colleges and universities are increasingly deriving meaning from data using tools including AI and machine learning. Data-informed decision-making can be incorporated into existing management activities and processes and can be programmed into applications to generate real-time alerts for students, faculty, and advisors.

  • Increased collaboration and partnerships across institutions

    Some institutions are looking to cross-institutional partnerships and consortia as a possible way to reduce costs or gain efficiencies. Purchasing consortia, for example, allow for collective cost savings and the opportunity to work more closely with vendors.

  • Increased surveillance and threats to personal privacy

    Some governments will continue to move in the direction of imposing sweeping privacy regulations (e.g., GDPR), while others will remain fragmented in their approaches to controlling and safeguarding data. The lack of consistent privacy laws and regulations across state and national borders will lead to compliance challenges and threats to privacy.

  • Increasing attention to well-being and mental health

    Well-being and mental health initiatives at colleges and universities, including emerging technology and application solutions, will need to support the increasing numbers of students who report experiencing anxiety, depression, and related concerns.

  • Increasing awareness of DEI in the higher education workforce

    Racial injustices and civil unrest have catalysed demands for more equitable and inclusive work environments. For the IT organization, DEI is highly relevant to sustainable staffing and an engaged and high-functioning workforce.

  • Increasing complexity of the compliance environment

    The IT and data regulatory environment can seem labyrinthine, making it hard to secure IT systems in a compliant manner. Data elements may be protected by a number of federal, state, and local laws and industry regulations.

  • Increasing demand for continued education and reskilling in the larger adult workforce

    The potential student population may extend more and more to adults at all life stages, as the need for ongoing learning and retooling increases. Technology can enable institutions to reach and serve adult learners more flexibly.

  • Increasing requirements and incentives for environmental sustainability

    Institutional policies (e.g., work travel, resource consumption) and campus development will need to align with state and federal mandates for sustainability.

  • Increasing socio-political polarization

    Heightening tensions between socio-political worldviews have led to increasingly heated debates and conflicts on campuses. In the United States, legislation that could benefit higher education will be difficult to pass through a polarized Congress and entrenched political positions.

  • Long-term adoption of remote work models

    Institutions experimented with widespread remote working models for health and safety reasons during the COVID-19 pandemic. Moving forward, some institutions may expand policies on remote work to include a range of scenarios from weekly flexible schedules to 100% distributed working environments.

  • New and profound awareness of racial injustice

    In the classroom and across the campus there will be a heightened focus on institutions' and individuals’ responsibilities for eliminating the sources of racial injustice.

  • Post-COVID-19 recovery and increased awareness of campus health and safety

    In the years ahead, some institutions may implement heightened monitoring and safeguarding measures against COVID-19 and other health and safety threats.

  • Shifts in the education and training needed for the workforce of the future

    Degree programs and curricula will need to keep up with the shifting demands of industries and an evolving workforce (e.g., automation, digital literacy, gig economy). Industries will seek partnerships outside traditional higher education for skills development and workforce recruitment.

  • Spread of disinformation and the weaponization of social media

    The use of deep-fake videos, believable disinformation, and weaponized social media is becoming more commonplace on the global social and political stages, as well as on the college campus.

  • Widening of the digital divide among students

    The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the digital inequities that exist between students sharing the same courses. As higher education continues to rely on remote technologies and digital networks for course delivery, the gap will only widen between those with digital advantages and those who struggle to gain access to devices and network necessities.

  • Widespread adoption of hybrid learning models

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, most institutions were forced to adopt new, hybrid approaches to learning. Some of those institutions will continue or add new blended and online programs for the long term.